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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Hi, Captain Awkward,

My current boyfriend and I have been seeing each other since January of this year. To cut to the chase, I don’t know how to break up with him. When we first started dating he was exactly what I was looking for, but as time has gone on I now see him as clingy, a little whiny, and not entirely reliable. He did his best to fix the problems I’ve brought up with the relationship before. Now, after telling him a problem I’ve got, he says his piece on the matter and considers the issue resolved, without giving me a chance to respond to his rant. He also still lives with his parents, which alone I wouldn’t have a problem with, but he’s completely under their thumbs and feels he has to justify and explain where he’s going EVERY time he leaves the house, whether it’s to go to school, work, or play tabletop games with me and a group of friends. He’s only spent the night with me in secret, when his parents were away, and after nine months he STILL hasn’t told his parents we’re dating, even though there was a time we were talking about moving in together, and/or getting married. (Admittedly our “engagement” lasted two days, after which I flipped out and told him I couldn’t make a promise like that. He understood, and we went back to normal.) Part of this I can understand, as he was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, but at the same time there’s a certain point I feel is disrespectful to both me and his parents, and we’re definitely past that. I was tired of being a “secret girlfriend” months ago, but dropped the issue because he’s scared of being kicked out of his house and religion.

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jeans that are also bikini bottoms

These are never the correct pants.

Dear Captain Awkward:

Maybe you can help me untangle my brain?

I’ve been dating a guy for eight months. We live about an hour apart, and made up for irregular facetime with hours-long phone calls. Then bad things happened in each of our lives, and the rainbows and unicorns we’d started with disappeared. The last time we saw each other, we talked: we both feel like we’re often speaking different languages, and we’re both stymied by that.  There’s a kind of life experience gap between us that maybe explains this. He’s an only child from a well-off white family, coping with adult-diagnosed ADHD.  I’m from a biracial middle-class family (half white, half Native American), have a younger sister who has severe disabilities, and am being treated for anxiety and depression.

Sometimes things…get weird.  Like, we had dinner with his dad and his dad’s friend, then we all went to a pro sports game.  Afterwards, when I said the racism of the evening had upset me, he assumed I’d been talking about the crowd at the game – not what his dad and the friend had said at dinner. His openness about his kinks has helped me to identify and enjoy some of my own, but I’ve felt overwhelmed by trying to be GGG. (He’s my first sexual partner; I still haven’t tried PIV sex.)  He feels rejected by my lack of engagement with casual touch (which I’m not used to and have told him I’m trying to change), which he seems to need and feels is “his” language (mine is evidently word based). I am barely recovering my sex drive after a rough summer, and told him that, but he was already hurting.

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Dear Captain Awkward

I’m a young guy, 20s. I was a bit of late bloomer, and have only limited (but a little!) experience seducing women. I feel like I might’ve missed some cues because of a very inactive teenage sex life. So my question is about the very cliched topic of wooing and fucking the women of my affections. 

Nowadays I’m ready to go. I’m hot, kind of charming, and rather socially adept. I don’t pop my collar or act like a douche-bag or any other ridiculous-ness. I’m sweet and totally not a creeper. But let’s just say that women definitely know when I’m attracted to them. Maybe I’m kind of intense. I see lots of examples of women liking intense, but it doesn’t work for me.  So I try to tone it down, by being smiley and non threatening. Which doesn’t seem to work either. 

It seems to me that a man must apparently be simultaneously aggressive and tender. And  that every woman likes that ratio a little different. Which suits me just fine, but I don’t know how to express it? For example, I am a fan of snuggling, smooching and etc. And I’m not into sneaking out in the morning. But I also like my passion with a healthy (and consensual) dose of aggression and roughness! I don’t want to misrepresent myself on either count. So how do I convey both of those things? 

In the past women seemed to get spooked when I was just thinking about grabbing them or pushing them against the wall. (What are you — psychic?) And they didn’t get particularly hot and bothered when I patted them sweetly and played with their hair. So now I find myself playing a ludicrous balancing act to show that I am not “too nice” (read: bad in the sack) but also that I am not going to rape them. And guess what? It doesn’t work! So. How can I convey that I’m good for spooning AND forking? And actually get some? 

Spooning and Forking, Eventually

Dear Spooning and Forking:

When you describe wanting to somehow “convey” that:

  • You are sweet,
  • Smiley and nonthreatening!
  • And not a douche or a creeper,
  • And you like cuddling,
  • But you also want a healthy and consensual dose of aggression and roughness!
  • Which you convey by sometimes thinking graphic thoughts about grabbing women and shoving them against the wall-
  • While leaning in close and playing with their hair or patting their hands,
  • But that doesn’t mean you’re some kind of rapist!
  • And you want to be intense – women like intense! – but not TOO intense.

Yeah, I pretty much picture this:

Three female mounties in full uniform.

Thanks to Flickr user Mrs_Logic (no relation to the Commander), there is one photo of female mounties on the internet that does not involve a stripper costume!

Long-time reader The Mental Health Mountie has compiled some recommendations for affordable mental health care for us.  Hopefully you will find it useful.  If you’ve tried any of these methods and can tell us how it went or if you can suggest additional resources, let us know in the comments.


Therapy on Sale

You’ve spoken to friends, you consulted the Internet, and you’ve thoroughly self-helped yourself. It’s more than you or your chums can handle. You’re being told by your mother/friend/partner/favorite advice columnist that it’s time to get yourself/your family/your child some therapy. It’s obvious that therapy is the next step, but you can’t spare the cash. Here are some suggestions to get yourself on that couch, on a budget.

1. If you are a student, you’re in luck. Colleges or universities may offer counseling services to students for free. You can contact the student services office for more information. If you are still a student, your parents’ insurance may even cover you for therapy outside your school. If you feel comfortable talking to your parents, you can ask them about their insurance. Some parents may even offer to help foot the bill.

2. If you want help for your child, schools have psychologists or counsellors who can work with kids, and this is a good place to start.

3. If you live near a college or university, many psychology or social work programs have “training clinics” where you can be seen for a low cost. This can be as low as $10 a session, with fees varying depending on income. Training clinics exist because budding psychologists and social workers need practice before going it alone. The therapy is supervised by licensed professionals, so your sessions will be discussed or taped to ensure you are getting competent treatment. The advantages: a) your therapist is probably putting a lot of time into understanding you and preparing for your sessions, b) the supervisor was likely chosen for their experience and knowledge, and c) two heads are better than one head, when working with your head. To pursue this option call the “clinical psychology” or “counseling psychology” or social work department and ask if they have a training clinic manned by students. You can also poke around on the university website. Here is an example from the University of Washington in Seattle: http://web.psych.washington.edu/psych.php#p=362

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Firefly's Jayne gives the old side-eye

Jayne, not the most empathetic of men, gives your "friend" the side-eye.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’ve been reading your column for a while, and am dearly in need of advice. To cut right to the chase, I have a friend. He is a lovely lovely person, but there are some things about him that have been making maintaining that friendship well…difficult. Complicating this is the fact that both of us recently cut a mutual friend out of our lives (independently of each other and at different times) for much the same behavior. I have only been in this city a year and am in an extremely demanding job that makes making friends difficult in the first place, and we’ve been through a lot together (when he’s a good friend he’s really really amazing) so I don’t want to just cut another person out of my life, but I’m at a loss to figure out how to make this livable.

I guess what it comes down to is he is incredibly self centered. He’s kind and caring and really there for you when it works for him, but….he never meets someone halfway let alone on their terms. It’s his way or no way at all. He hardly ever comes to my house, though we live close. I’m at his place all the time, on his invitation. He consistently can’t make it when I invite him. When I am at his house he continues about his day like I wasn’t there. He hangs, but he’ll continue to answer emails, fix his bike, play guitar, even if I’m dying of boredom. He’s fine if you leave, but if I want to see him at all it’s 100% on his terms: his time, his place, his choice of activity. “No I won’t go get coffee with you and chat, but you can watch me play guitar!” Even when, say, I’d love to catch up or really need to talk. I tried bringing it up, but that brings me to the second point:

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Dear Captain Awkward – 

I write for a reality check from you and your wise readers regarding the plan I have devised going forward with my brother. The backstory: my brother’s wife has chronic health problems, and some mental health issues as well (who wouldn’t?). She is totally isolated from her family, and basically only has my brother to care for her. They are very unreliable about family get togethers, so our interactions are infrequent. The typical situation is that we will make plans to get together and they will cancel at the very last second. They try to say “just make your own plans, and we’ll join you if we can”, which sort-of sounds reasonsble, but never really works in practice. No matter what you do you end up waiting around for them, when they rarely show, or by the time he gets to dinner/the park/etc. everyone is ready to leave. 

I know that (1) her health issues are serious (2) even though I know this and try to have some appreciation for how difficult it is to live with chronic conditions, I am not as sympathetic and supportive as I could be, and (3) she (and he) uses her health issues as an excuse, and she in particular appears to want (even if it is subconsicous) to keep my brother isolated from his family.

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Dear Captain Awkward:

So I am a recentish transplant to San Francisco at 28.

I have many acquaintances here from various parts of my life, as SF is one of those cities people just end up in. These people are not connected to each other in any way.

As I attempt to build a friendship circle out here I have to deal with lots of people being flaky – not responding to emails, or breaking plans etc. I know from my own life I engage in this behavior under a few circumstances: 1) when I’m just not prioritizing the other person for one reason or another or 2) I’m depressed and avoiding social commitments like it’s my job.

I know for a fact a few of these potential-friends are sort of lonely and isolated, and some have very vibrant social lives. For the people I know are lonely / isolated I pretty much keep on going back to them with invites of one kind or another. For people with actual lives I’ll leave it at two or so before moving along.

What’s your take on how best to handle flaky people you are attempting to friend?

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Big blue tricycle

The tricycle of second chances and awkward hopes.

Dear Captain,

I’ve been part of a polyamorous triad (3-person relationship were everyone is in a relationship with each other) for a little over year now. It’s a serious and committed relationship. We’re in it for the long haul. My two partners have a kid together (herein Kiddo). Kiddo will be two this weekend. I love Kiddo a lot and I’m very involved in caring for her. 

Recently, my mother commented on a Facebook post I made saying something about her “grandchild,” meaning Kiddo. She also sent Kiddo a tricycle for her upcoming birthday, despite the fact that when my mother brought up the idea a few months ago I told her we didn’t have room and that my partners weren’t cool with Kiddo having a tricycle at this age.

The thing about the situation that is making my head/stomach hurt is that I have a long history of boundary issues and emotional/verbal abuse from my mom. Things are more or less in check these days (I’ve been out of the house 10 years now) but they require constant vigilance on my part to stay that way. There was a stretch of several years where I had -no- contact with my parents because they couldn’t figure out how to treat me with normal human decency and that was the only was I could teach them that now that I’m an adult I refuse to put up with that behavior any more.

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